Matt Done, who scored a hat-trick at Crewe in midweek, had Rochdale’s best chance of the first half during a bright opening spell for the home side.
He got in behind the City defence but opted for a square pass to Ian Henderson rather than testing goalkeeper Frank Fielding and defender Aden Flint cleared City’s lines.
City opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Mark Little charged forward down the right and fed Luke Freeman on the edge of the area. He fired a low drive wide of Dale’s on-loan Leicester goalkeeper Conrad Logan.
Rochdale turned up the pressure after the interval and Fielding pulled off a good save to keep out Peter Vincenti’s header. He was powerless to prevent the equaliser in the 56th minute, however, as Henderson converted Done’s delivery across the face of goal.
Henderson had a shot cleared off the line while Logan stood up well to deny City substitute Scott Wagstaff as both teams pushed for the win.